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The London Book Fair 2024: Children’s Highlights

By Emma Rogers and Rosie Pinder


The London Book Fair, one of the biggest book fairs in Europe, recently took place between 12 and 14 March. What began as a specialist event for librarians to exhibit work from small publishers has become an international affair for publishers, commissioners, retailers, copyright professionals and global licensors. As always, the leading names in children’s and YA literature were welcomed to exhibit their work and held many exciting events. 


LBG Schools Programme


Launched at the 2023 London Book Fair, the Schools Programme partners with the National Literacy Trust to engage students aged 13–16 from disadvantaged backgrounds. The project is part of the National Literacy Trust’s Worlds for Work, which brings businesses and young people together to give them the literacy and communication skills they need to reach their potential. With talks from publishing professionals about their roles in the industry and a networking opportunity, the programme will inspire many young people to pursue a career in the book industry.


A New Generation of Readers: How BookTok is Diversifying Reading and Unifying Readers

12 March, Esther Fung and Léa Crumpton


While this seminar was not aimed at the children’s book market specifically, it was definitely an interesting listen to see how BookTok has shaped the reading habits of the younger generation. Esther Fung is a social media and marketing coordinator at PangoBook and a bookstagrammer with 65.4K followers. Léa Crumpton is a content creator who has worked with many big brands, including Hay Festival, Amazon, and many publishers, as well as a bookseller. The pair discussed how the online space is connecting bookworms from around the globe and introduced their audience to diverse voices and perspectives. They also gave tips on creating your own BookTok and Bookstagram accounts!


YA Spotlight: How to Get Noticed in a Crowded Market

14 March, Danielle Jawando, Lex Croucher, Samantha Soar and Charlotte Eyre

 

YA author Lex Croucher joined Charlotte Eyre, a freelance journalist who compiles the monthly children’s previews from The Bookseller Magazine, to discuss how YA authors can get their books noticed by publishers and readers in a busy market that is heavily influenced by social media and BookTok. Also on the panel was Danielle Jawndo, author of And the Stars Were Burning Brightly and winner of the Great Reads Award and Samantha Soar, a content creator on BookTok.


On the Stands


Photo by: Rosie Pinder

As always, the children’s stands and children’s areas of the bigger publishers' stands were some of the most colourful and exciting of the fair. Walker Books, Nosy Crow, Sweet Cherry Publishing, and Anderson Press had a significant presence. But there were also many smaller, more specialist publishers holding meetings and showing off their upcoming lead titles. It was noticeable that many more graphic novels were present amongst the titles on the stands and lots of gifty, highly illustrated non-fiction.

 

There was less of a children‘s focus on the stands of the Big Four, likely because of the upcoming Bologna Book Fair in early April. This will be the focus for many of the big publishers in the children’s space to hold meetings and launch their big titles, so it will undoubtedly be one to watch!


News


Along with seminars and publisher stalls, the fair announced lots of exciting book news. Headline’s Quarto Kids announced it had acquired a  picture book from Olympic javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread, described as a “heartwarming tribute to love, fosterhood and the potential in every child.”

 

Gollancz won a ten-way bidding war for two standalone novels (including The Unmagical Life of Briar Jones) by Lex Croucher, the author of the popular regency rom-coms Reputation, Infamous and Trouble. It’s been reported that this is a six-figure deal.

 

Hot Key Books has bought the YA fantasy novel Damien Ike and the Fallen House of Draven by David Arlo and Dee Benson. David Arlo is a London-born Nigerian musical artist who has also worked on a semi-autobiographical TV show, while Dee Benson is the author of the Lara Bloom series.

 

Del Rey has pre-empted Silvercloak in a six-figure deal with YA author Laura Steven. Steven is the author of several novels, including The Society for Soulless Girls and The Exact Opposite of Okay, but this will be her first romantasy book.

 

Hosting the fair in March meant it was the first major rights fair of the year, which resulted in a lot of deal-making. The fair proved busier than ever, with big crowds, lengthy queues, and jam-packed stalls. Everyone’s high energy was infectious, and it proved to be a successful event.


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